These were questions in an introductory course examination. How would you answer them?
1. Who invented karma, and why?
Nobody, people explained karma.
2. What are the most important differences between a Mahāyāna Bodhisattva
and the Bodhisattva in Śrāvakayāna (e.g. Theravāda)?
None (as far as I am concerned)
3. What is the difference between emptiness in Abhidharma and in the
Mahāyānist tradition of the “Perfection of Wisdom” (Prajñāpāramitā)?
Depends on which Abhidharma you are talking about.
4. What are the causes for suffering, and how do they relate to each other?
Ignorance of the nature of reality. (how do who/what relate to each other?)
5. Is meritorious action sufficient to escape from the cycle of rebirth? If yes,
explain why, if not, explain why not and what else might be necessary.
Consider differences between Śrāvaka- and Mahāyāna in your explanation.
No. You need to develop wisdom too.
6. What are the spiritual goals of an Arhat and of a Bodhisattva? Do the paths
leading to these goals differ? (If yes, how, if not, how can the same path lead
to different goals?)
No difference, both aim for liberation.
Not really, both paths contain all the elements of the other.
7. How can the rules of the Vinaya for the life of individual monks or nuns be
understood as an expression of Buddhist principles?
Because they are based on Buddhist principles (sheeesh, who came up with these questions?)
8. Does a Mahāyāna Bodhisattva have to keep the Vinaya rules for a monk? If
yes, why, if no, why not?
No, if they are not a monk. Yes, if they are a monk.
9. Is the Mahāyāna a Buddhist school?
What? Those losers? No way are they Buddhists!
10. What is the function of the no-self-doctrine (S anātmavāda / P anattavāda)?
To erradicate clinging to a self and all the unwholesome actions that may arise from this clinging.
Did I pass the exam?
With the eye of wisdom we discover a lot of anger in us, any amount of jealousy, resentment, ignorance, desire - mountains of emotion whose existence we would never have suspected in ourselves... We recognize that most of the faults we perceive in others are only the mirror of our own negativity, the reflection of our own disturbed feelings... At the same time, we relieve the world around us of the burden of our own negative judgements."
Gendun Rinpoche Heart Advice from a Mahamudra Master